Shrewsbury Town v Doncaster: Ollie Norburn relishes honesty from a boss who pulls no punches

Even though he has been absent for some four months, Shrewsbury players learned quickly of Steve Cotterill’s honest, no frills, direct approach to management.

If something needs saying, the Town boss will say it – and the meaning is just as strong over a speaker, writes Lewis Cox.

Skipper Ollie Norburn revealed this week the refreshing honesty in which Cotterill’s approaches management, adding that ‘nine times out of 10 he’s bang on’.

Assistant Aaron Wilbraham has said a pin drop can be heard during Cotterill’s telephone team talks, and first team coach David Longwell insisted there are not many personalities who can command the attention of a dressing room while not there in person – and even call out those who aren’t listening.

Town host out-of-form Doncaster at Montgomery Waters Meadow tomorrow at the slightly earlier time of a 12.30pm, due to the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral at 3pm, and Cotterill will again call the shots from afar.

“The manager comes on through the speaker and he says what he has to say and nine times out of 10 he’s bang on with what he says,” Norburn said.

“So there’s not really much talking from anyone else to be honest!”

Fellow midfielder Josh Vela revealed Cotterill gave Shrewsbury a stern talking to after the disappointing recent defeat at troubled Northampton on Good Friday, where Town were well below their standards under the manager.

But such a dressing down was probably not required after Tuesday’s heavy 4-1 reverse at Oxford. The manager had a debrief over the phone with his No.2 Wilbraham just before the assistant addressed the press, and Wilbraham said all of Town’s staff, as well as U’s boss Karl Robinson, felt the scoreline flattered the hosts.

Regardless, experienced boss Cotterill has been working remotely to ensure his side do not take their foot off the peddle in the final weeks of the season despite all-but securing League One safety, having reached 50 points last weekend.

Doncaster’s visit begins a run of the final seven games played in just over four weeks. Town still have 21 points to play for and can target the rare feat of breaching 60 points in the third tier, as well as bettering last season’s effort of 15th.

Players are also playing for their futures, with a considerable number of the first-team squad out of contract as the manager prepares for his first summer transfer window in the job.

Norburn added: “Since he’s come in he’s just been black and white and he says what he thinks, if something needs to be said then he’ll say it.

“They are his views, we’ve got to respect his views and listen to his views, I’ve said before, nine times out of 10 he’s right.

“No matter what, in any walk of life, whether you like the response or not, as long as it’s honest then I think you’ve got to be happy

”I think honesty is key, someone being up front, I’m happy to work with that.”

Doncaster have struggled badly since Darren Moore departed for Championship strugglers Sheffield Wednesday at the beginning of March.

Temporary boss Andy Butler, who stepped up from his defensive playing role, won his first two games in charge but has since gone nine games without a win – seven of those defeats – including defeat in the last five.

When Shrewsbury won at Doncaster just before Christmas the hosts were second and could’ve topped the pile on Christmas Day with a win. They now sit 12th with little to play for, albeit Butler has stated his determination to a arrest the bad run of results so he can be a viable contender for the job on a permanent basis.

The fixture will also be Adam Henshall’s final game with Doncaster, where he head of talent ID, before leaving for Villa. Shrewsbury-based Henshall was head of recruitment and performance analysis at Town for almost four years before leaving for Rovers.

He will start his new role as head of emerging talent and loans at Villa Park.

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